April O'Neil / news@WHMI.com

A local rideshare service is offering insight into methods of reducing traffic along US-23.

The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, otherwise known as TheRide, is offering to assist in the Michigan Department of Transportation’s ongoing study of traffic patterns on US-23 by exploring expanded rideshare options.

TheRide operates the public transit system for the greater Ann Arbor-Ypsilanti area. The service provides transportation to and from big cities including Ann Arbor, Lansing, and Detroit, commuter services like Park & Ride and Vanpools, rides to local events including University of Michigan football games, and airport services (AirRide).

The company has been in operation for the last 50 years.

Officials with TheRide are currently developing a pro-transit scenario, as part of MDOT’s study of US-23, proposing a traffic diversion away from parts of the freeway as a cost-effective incentive for drivers and the State of Michigan.

TheRide offered to be a part of MDOT’s US-23 Improvement Project Study in a technical advisory capacity to help develop a transit scenario for the study.

“We understand that MDOT is being asked to consider a transit solution along US-23, and we happen to already have one that has been endorsed through extensive public involvement and our Board’s approval,” says TheRide CEO Matt Carpenter.

Tens of thousands of commuters drive to Ann Arbor every day for work, many using US-23 from towns in Livingston, Oakland, and Washtenaw Counties.

TheRide's proposed partnership would divert cars away from parts of US-23, replacing them with a small number of highway coaches in an effort to reduce pressure on the highway enough that widening US-23 would not be necessary.

A long-range plan called “TheRide 2045” includes specific recommendations for diverting roughly 8,000 cars/day away from the US-23 corridor and local streets like Plymouth Rd. and Washtenaw Ave. in Ann Arbor- an area that heavily relies on public transportation.

Park & Ride services typically offer small-scale parking lots (200 stalls). TheRide envisions upscaling this service to a size common in larger cities, with several 2,000-stall lots to be situated on US-23 north and south of Ann Arbor, M-14, and I-94 east of Ann Arbor.

Users would then be shuttled to Ann Arbor destinations on highway coaches like those used for AirRide or D2A2 (pictured).

“This isn’t an engineering challenge, it’s a funding challenge,” said Carpenter. “If the money were available, TheRide has the vision, capacity and expertise to execute a service like this. So this is worth at least considering.”

The vision calls for the large parking lots to be constructed about 10 miles outside the Ann Arbor freeway ring, along existing interchanges.

“We understand that building Park & Ride lots is maybe a little outside of MDOT’s traditional role, which is why we are offering our assistance. These sorts of ideas will become more common in a multi-modal future. And MDOT did already build a Park & Ride lot along US-23 and 8 Mile Road as part of the Flex Lane project,” says Carpenter.

TheRide also noted that rideshare options would reduce emissions from cars and overall vehicle miles travelled, and is compatible with pedestrians and bicyclists.

You can find more information on the initiative at the provided link.